CO2 flux from soil is a significant component of total atmospheric carbon, as well as an indicator of soil biological health, a useful tool for evaluating the impact of agricultural practices, and a key variable relevant to global climate change. A year-long study was conducted to evaluate subterranean termite contribution to soil CO2 flux on Oklahoma's Joseph H. Williams Tallgrass Prairie Preserve. Gas samples were extracted from metal flux chambers located within soil plots containing naturally occurring populations of foraging subterranean termites and from two different types of control plots without termites. Results indicate that CO2 flux during January, March, April, June, July, and December was similar among all three treatments. However, CO2 flux in control plots during May was significantly greater compared with termite-active plots. Overall CO2 flux from both termite-infested and termite-free plots was great enough to obscure CO2 contributions from subterranean termites alone. Therefore, although total normal baseline CO2 emissions from soil were measured, the specific amount of CO2 that termites alone contributed to this flux could not be accurately determined.
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Vol. 176 • No. 1